Exhibition of photos from UON research opens next month

Photographs taken by young people illustrating how they use a newly built YMCA forms an exhibition that is part of ongoing research by the University of Northampton (UON).

Photovoice opens at the MK Gallery on 7 June and will run for the whole month. It will showcase photographs taken by young people who now live at YMCA Milton Keynes which provides homes and support for more than 200 residents.

Their photos explore the challenges they faced before coming to the YMCA, their feelings about the campus and the impact of the support they receive. The photos will be accompanied by recorded conversations with the photographers telling their stories, including origami making and how one woman uses boxing to build her confidence and manage feelings of anger.

The exhibition will be held at the MK Gallery’s Project Space is free to attend, and opening hours are Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 5pm. There will be an official ceremony with the YMCA team and UON researchers on 11 June from 3-5pm – again free to attend – in which members of the public can come along to ask questions about the project.

After moving into their new building in 2020, YMCA Milton Keynes are creating a new approach and service to better support a growing number of young people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity in the city.

The research will illustrate findings from an evaluation assessing the social impact of YMCA Milton Keynes’ new service and its short and long-term outcomes on young people aged 18-35 years. The researchers hope the project and exhibition will stimulate discussion and highlight the importance of practical, emotional and employment support for young people in Milton Keynes.

Tao Giroletti – Researcher in Social Innovation & Impact – is the project’s lead. She said: “I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this experience with the Photovoice participants, but we all came a long way. They thought me so much about their journeys and who they are, and how powerful working ‘on ourselves’ can be.

“Being able to participate in this research is making me very proud of what I do, so I want to thank the participants, YMCA and the MK Gallery for making this possible.”

Simon Green, CEO of YMCA added: “We are really proud of our residents who have taken part in this project. This is a unique opportunity to share their experiences with the wider community in Milton Keynes.”

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